You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard about 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte’s drunken antics in Rio de Janeiro. For those not in the know, the good-looking swimmer fabricated a ridiculous robbery story to cover up the vandalism him and his swimmer friends inflicted on a gas station. The story picked up incredible speed and turned into an international accident after his mommy informed the press. This, in turn, overshadowed the second half of the Olympics taking away from the achievements of his fellow Olympians.
Now, this post isn’t so much about Ryan Lochte as it is about how being good-looking allows people to get away with ridiculousness. It’s a fact of human nature. The better looking you are, the more leeway you get in life. Sad, but true. Beautiful politicians are more likely to be elected. Beautiful servers and bartenders make more in tips. Beautiful sales people make higher commissions. Pretty children get more teacher attention in school. Pretty bloggers get free donuts at Tim Horton’s (am I pretty? The dude behind me thought so).
Case in point: my little sister Alice was the cutest baby and toddler you’ve ever seen. She was also naughty and headstrong as hell. To this day, she remains the only one of us in the entire family to get away with screaming at my somewhat scary grandfather when he scolded her. Everyone looked at her in shock and later my mom chalked up her lack of punishment to her being “too damn cute for her own good.” I mean, NO ONE was rude or stepped out of line in front of Granddad ever….except for Alice, who looked like the black Gerber Baby.
Now, I’m going to call this “The Ryan Lochte Effect” – acting badly and getting away with it. I am very aware that Mr. Lochte has paid in spades for his cro-magnon behaviour in Brazil, but I’m going to assume that he has been acting badly and getting away with it for a long time – until now.
I remember my girlfriends being in love with Lochte when he took the world by storm during the 2012 Summer Olympics. So much so, that a close friend of mine proclaimed to us that she “would hit that over and over like a Jeopardy button.” My friend truly is a poet. God love her. Ryan is indeed incredibly handsome. It’s hard to look past those abs, the pretty green eyes and the overall Greek God-ness of the guy. Unfortunately, Ryan also became famous for is notoriously mediocre intelligence. Gawker referred to him as a “golden lab turned human”, and 30 Rock poked fun of his IQ beautifully during an episode of Thirty Rock, where he played Pizzarina Sbaro’s Sex Idiot (you have to see the episode to believe it).
Beauty truly is not subjective. Studies show that most humans are attracted to a certain set of traits. Full lips, big, wide-set eyes, healthy, shiny hair and high-cheek bones are very desirable across all cultures for women, whereas strong jaws and big chins are preferable in men. Smooth skin and symmetry are also desirable aspects of beauty across both genders.
So, why am I writing this post? Because I feel that the combination of beauty, popularity, power and narcissism can be a very toxic cocktail. The less scrupulous beauties can use their looks to manipulate others to do their bidding, as shown by Lochte on that fateful night in Rio.
The beauty industry as a whole plays into this “manipulation theory” greatly. “Buy this red lipstick and get the man you want!”, “Wear these painful Spanx and make all of your girlfriends jealous!”, “Wrinkles are hideous! Buy this $400 cream that may or may not work!”.
A University of British Columbia study found that individuals tend to find attractive people more intelligent, friendly and competent than the beautiful-challenged. It also found that people identify the personality traits of physically attractive people more accurately than others during short encounters. Unfair but true. People are simply more motivated to pay close attention to the beautiful.
So, do you think that Ryan Lochte’s hotness, power and narcissism played a part in the stupid, bro-y actions that took place in Brazil? Better yet, do you find yourself swayed by the gorgeous? I’ve been guilty of it as shown by a series of failed relationships with good-looking dummies.